Aida Levitan Elected Chair of Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection

Aida Levitan

Aida Levitan

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 2, 2016) – Aida T. Levitan, a nationally recognized marketing communications leader and philanthropist, has been elected chair of the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) at the University of Miami Libraries. She is the first woman to take on the role since Elena Díaz-Versón Amos served as the organization’s founding co-chair from 1995 to 2000. During her two-year appointment as chair, Levitan, a UM alumna, will work to generate awareness of the CHC and its archival resources while collaborating with UM Libraries leadership and UM Advancement in fundraising efforts to develop programs related to the CHC’s mission.

The Amigos is a volunteer group founded in support of the CHC’s efforts to document and preserve the history of Cuba and the Cuban diaspora. In addition to Díaz-Versón Amos, former Amigos chairs include Aldo Leiva, Horacio Stuart Aguirre, Carlos P. Quintela, Ignacio Carrera-Jústiz, José F. Valdivia, Jr., and Henry King Stanford.

Levitan led the No. 1. U.S. Hispanic advertising and public relations agency and is now the president of ArtesMiami, Inc., dedicated to supporting and promoting Hispanic artists and cultural organizations. She is also president of The Levitan Group, Inc., a consulting firm that provides strategic branding services to international and local companies.

A recipient of numerous national and local awards, Levitan is vice chair of the Smithsonian Latino Center and serves on the boards of U.S. Century Bank and the Spanish Cultural Center. She is trustee emerita of the Pérez Art Museum Miami and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Professor Named President-Elect of International TESOL

Luciana de Oliveira will become the first Latina to head the 51-year-old Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages International Association

By Bárbara Gutiérrez
UM News


Luciana de Oliviera

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 21, 2016)—University of Miami Associate Professor Luciana C. de Oliveira, who chairs the Department of Teaching and Learning in the School of Education and Human Development, is president-elect of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association, an organization committed to advancing the quality of English-language teaching worldwide. Her three-year leadership term begins in March 2017, and includes a year as president and a year as past president.

Born in Brazil, de Oliveira will be the first Latina to serve as president of the 51-year-old association, which has as its main goal advancing the language teaching profession through professional development, research, standards, and advocacy.

“I’m so happy and humbled,” said de Oliveira. “This is pretty historic for TESOL since I am not only the first Latina who will become president, but also the youngest woman and the first South American. It’s just amazing to have this recognition from the members. I look forward to serving TESOL and its members in this new role.”

She joined TESOL in 2003 and served in various positions, most recently as a member of the board of directors for the past three years. As an immigrant who came to the United States in 1997, de Oliveira appreciates TESOL’s recognition of her as a Latina leader and hopes the organization will continue to focus on immigrant populations in the U.S. and support its members worldwide.

Isaac Prilleltensky, dean of the School of Education and Human Development, called de Oliveira’s election “a tremendous honor.”

“We are extremely proud of her work and of the international recognition of her scholarship. Her work is having a global impact and the TESOL results demonstrate her international standing in her field,” said Prilleltensky. “Her work touches on many of our University initiatives, such as educational innovation, culture of belonging, and hemispheric reach. Her presidency will enhance the visibility of the School of Education and Human Development and our work in the promotion of educational, psychological, and physical well-being in multicultural communities.”

De Oliveira joined the UM faculty in 2015 after teaching at Columbia and Purdue universities. Her research focuses on issues related to teaching English-language learners at the K-12 level, including the role of language in learning the content areas, teacher education, advocacy and social justice, and non-native English-speaking teachers in TESOL.

She has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited 17 books, with several others under contract, and has a total of over 200 publications, including refereed journal articles and book chapters. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience in the field of TESOL. Her many awards and honors include being the 2012 recipient of the Early Career Award by the Bilingual Education Research special interest group of AERA.

For more information about the TESOL International Organization visit www.tesol.org.




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Anne Norris Named Interim Dean of School of Nursing and Health Studies

UM News

Anne Norris, associate dean for the Ph.D. program and professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies, has been named interim dean of the school, effective January 3, 2017. Dean Nilda (Nena) Peragallo Montano, who has led the school for 13 years, announced in August that she will resign at the end of the fall semester to become dean of the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A member of the faculty since 2014, Norris is an internationally recognized nursing scientist, specializing in sexual and reproductive health, particularly the role of culture and other social influences on behavior, as well as statistics and measurement.

“As a renowned nurse, educator, and scholar, Dr. Norris is an outstanding faculty member to fill this important role while we conduct the search for a new dean,” said Thomas J. LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost. “She will help ensure continuity of the school’s excellence during this transitional period.”

The author of more than 90 scholarly publications, Norris was inducted earlier this year into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society’s International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. This highly prestigious distinction recognizes her pioneering research, in which she frequently incorporates cutting-edge technology, and her mentorship of nurse educators and scientists. She is the 2011 recipient of the Mary Cash Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cultural Diversity in Nursing and Health Care and a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

“I’m looking forward to building on Dean Peragallo’s legacy,” Norris said.

Norris earned her Ph.D. in nursing and psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has held faculty and leadership positions at The Ohio State University, Boston College, and the University of Central Florida. She is the principal investigator for JUEGA! (PLAY!), a study funded by a $3.3 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health that is testing the efficacy of her Mighty Girls program in 20 Miami-Dade County public middle schools. Mighty Girls combines classroom sessions with an avatar-based computer game to teach adolescent girls about choices, consequences, and assertiveness in risky situations.





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Miami Law Graduate Named Trump’s Chief of Staff

Reince Priebus

Reince Priebus

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 14, 2016)—Reince Priebus, a Miami Law alumnus and chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been tapped to be White House chief of staff for President-elect Donald J. Trump.

A Wisconsin native, Priebus graduated from the University of Miami School of Law cum laude with a J.D. degree in 1998. He is credited with deftly reorganizing the RNC and digging it out of financial turmoil.

As chief of staff, Priebus is being looked upon as a positive connector between the Republican establishment and the Trump White House.

William P. VanderWyden, assistant dean for professional development at Miami Law, worked closely with Priebus during his three years at the law school.

“Always a positive personality in the law school community, he was an encouraging and influential force among his peers,” said VanderWyden, who was associate dean of students when Priebus was at Miami Law.

While on campus, Priebus served as president of the Student Bar Association from 1997-98. He regularly wrote columns for the law student newspaper, Res Ipsa Loquitur, where he was also a copy editor.

Law Professor David Abraham remembers Priebus as a student in his Immigration and Citizenship Law class.

“Reince was a very engaged campus politician,” Abraham said. “I believe that having seen the complexity around the social, economic, and human aspects of immigration, Reince should be able to provide a nuanced understanding of what’s good for America and its people. Let’s hope he does.”

While in law school, Priebus clerked for the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in Los Angeles.

VanderWyden said Priebus was also “instrumental in encouraging his peers to participate in the Class Gift Program that we administered in 1998.”

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René Sacasas Named Faculty Ombudsperson


René Sacasas

UM News

René Sacasas, professor and chair of the Business Law Department who built a distinguished career in academia and service over his 30 years at the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration, has been appointed to the new position of University faculty ombudsperson.

“This newly created position follows the recommendation of the Committee on Women and Minorities of the Faculty Senate, and was developed in close consultation with the leadership of the Faculty Senate,’’ Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc said in announcing Sacasas’s appointment.

“Professor Sacasas has served the University of Miami with distinction for many years, and has exhibited the ideal qualities for an ombudsperson: wisdom, compassion, and confidentiality,” LeBlanc continued. “As an initiative of our culture transformation, the University faculty ombudsperson will provide faculty with a confidential avenue for resolving problems and conflicts, and hopefully help to create a ‘culture of belonging’ for all faculty.”

Sacasas, a long-serving member of the Faculty Senate, is specifically charged with helping individual faculty or groups of faculty explore their options for resolving conflicts, problematic issues, or concerns, and bringing systemic concerns to the attention of the appropriate unit or academic leader for resolution.

The 2015 recipient of the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award and a member of Iron Arrow, Sacasas said he was honored to be given the opportunity to serve his colleagues and the University in this new position.

“The essential basis of the shared governance model between the faculty and administration at the University of Miami is founded upon the ideals of mutual trust and fairness,” Sacasas said. “The new position of University ombudsperson was created for and dedicated to the support of those goals. As ombudsperson, I will serve the University’s faculty community by acting as an independent, impartial, informal, and confidential resource to assist all faculty with their questions and concerns outside of the formal conflict resolution systems of the University.”

Sacasas, who grew up in Miami swimming at the UM pool and attending Hurricanes football games in the Orange Bowl, joined the UM faculty in 1985 as an assistant professor in the Business Law Department. A year later, he became one of the first faculty fellows at Eaton Residential College, later serving as an associate master at Mahoney Residential College from 1990 to 1993. In 1995 Sacasas returned to the residential college system as headmaster for Hecht Residential College. During that time, he counseled and mentored thousands of students as well as numerous faculty members who served in residential college roles.

During his 25 years as chair, the Business Law Department doubled in size, increased faculty diversity, created several new programs, including a cross-disciplinary initiative in real estate, and became one of the top ten undergraduate business law programs in the United States, as ranked by Business Week.

He also will work with Professor Norman H. Altman, the Miller School of Medicine’s faculty ombudsman. Altman, a professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology, will continue to oversee the majority of cases at the medical school. However, Sacasas and Altman can each serve as a backup for each other and, where conflicts arise, will be a resource for the other.

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